Author Archives: Gina Bericchia

Getting Teens Thinking Healthy, Helping Them COPE

In a crowd-favorite presentation during the Global Diabetes Summit, Bernadette Melnyk said, we all know people don’t change behavior easily, which is why she has focused much of her career on helping teens making healthy behavior changes to help them live healthier with a focus on mental health.

17 percent of teens are obese or overweight, but one in four adolescents has a mental health problem and less than 25 percent receive any treatment. According to Melnyk, substantial studies that shows that in overweight teens, the more likely they are to have a mental health disorder. These mental health conditions make it hard for teens to picture themselves even living healthy lifestyles. And in many studies when behaviors have been modified in studies and short-term gains have been achieved in high-risk populations, teens gained the weight back.

Melnyk’s secret sauce to this problem is her COPE program, which focuses on thinking, emotion, exercise, nutrition in hopes of decreasing teen’s doubts and increasing their ability make changes. In other words, if you teach teens to think differently, they can act differently. 

In each session, after working on goal setting, emotional coping skills, behavior therapy and more, the teens get up and moving with a “wheel of fitness” where they learn various activities and movement, which are all designed to be done in the middle of the classroom. They also learn about nutrition like social eating, portion sizes and nutrition labels. In the final sessions of the after-school program, they integrate how to put all these together and help the teens make a lifestyle plan.

Melnyk’s study showed many positives results from a decrease in BMI to decreases in depressive and anxiety symptoms. The purpose of her current study is to evaluate the efficacy of COPE/Healthy Lifestyles TEEN (thinking, emotions, exercise and nutrition) program on the healthy lifestyle behaviors, BMI, mental health and academic outcomes of 779 high school 14-16 year old adolescents.   The key regarding many of these findings in implementation. So she said: why does this matter to schools and why should they enact the COPE program?

She is also measuring academic outcomes and found that because of the cognitive behavioral skills the teens learned, they can improve their academic skill level because of the confidence and coping skills they learn in the program.

The COPE program will be used as either a preventive or management intervention program for overweight/obesity in adolescents. The program is now being developed so that it can be implemented in schools across the country. Her work in also now ongoing to adapt the program for school-age child and college-age youth.

Has focusing on your mental health ever helped you through an illness? How can we get more teens to learn the importance of improving their mental health?


Evidenced-based, Personalized, and Lifestyle Approaches to Diabetes

The following highlights some of the sessions at the 2012 Global Diabetes Summit, hosted by Ohio State’s Diabetes Research Center at Wexner Medical Center.

Look AHEAD — what were the takeaways?

We have had much pharmaceutical successes in working towards a cure for diabetes — every year or two we have one or two new drugs for treatment. But researchers hypothesized intensive lifestyle interventions might be the key for the management of diabetes specifically for preventing cardiovascular disease.

Samuel Dagogo-Jack, MD, DM, FRCP, discussed the recent study which sought to prove just that, called “Look AHEAD. ” This trial implimented lifestyle-intervention programs which were focused on helping patients with Type 2 diabetes lose weight.

While there were many benefits, the study did not show that weight loss lowers heart disease risk in type 2 diabetes management as predicted, which examined this topic for 11 years — the longest diabetes study that looked specifically at weight management to help prevent cardiovascular disease in patients with Type 2 diabetes.

What they did find was improvements in glycemic control, blood pressure, HDL cholestorol (or good cholestrol), sleep apnea, and many other health benefits by participating in a management program.

Dagogo-Jack says that interventions may have started too late or that it ended too early. In the future, they also want to consider how statin use affected the weight management and other risk-factors which may not have been considered. Dagogo-Jack  says the jury is still out and the importance of weight loss should not be dismissed. Stay tuned for additional data and in the meantime, “keep your health in check.”

Lifestyle Intervention Changes in Arab-Americans

Linda Jaber, PharmaD, presented on lifestyle changes which effectively helped Arab-Americas in her study with weight loss/management which is a key risk factor for Type 2 Diabetes. The educational intervention in an Arab-American population focused on educating around lifestyle intervention that was cultural sensitive and scalabile.

The education was group-delivered, family-centered and the strategies offered were culturally-specific and sensitive to the needs of the population. Another successful strategy was involving participants to act as coaches by sharing success stories with the group. Since a majority of the participants were Muslim, the education had specific strategies for fasting during Ramadan.

Many people met a 7 percent weight loss goal set by the study. By encouraging participants to reduce fat intake, they were able to reduce calories with simple modification of ethnic foods and portion control for participants. They also found that family support was a significant predictor of weight-loss support, 70 percent of people who achieved the weight-loss goal had family support.

In summary, a culturally-appropriate, group lifestyle intervention implemented in a community setting was feasible and effective in helping to prevent diabetes risk factors in Arab-American patients.

Incorporate Healthy Meals

Thanks to @OSUWexMed’s nutrition services for providing these tips.
Whether you already live a healthy lifestyle or are trying to be healthier, reminders about how you can improve your overall health and wellness are helpful.
Planning ahead for meals can help you meet nutrition goals and not rely on “fast food” options at the end of a long day. When planning menus, try to ensure that five of the 14 (lunch and dinner) meals per week are “healthy.” By healthy this means meals 600 calories or less with no more than 1,000 milligrams of sodium.
If your usual meal averages 800-1,000 calories, you can save 4,000-8,000 calories over a month by doing the above, which equals to one to two pounds.
A healthy and balanced meal should include a starch, vegetables, protein, fruit and dairy. If this seems like too much food for one meal, try to get your daily dairy or fruit in as a snack. Here are examples of healthy meals that are all about 600 calories:
  • Grilled salmon – 3- to 4-ounce grilled salmon, a small baked sweet potato, 5 sprigs of asparagus, 1 cup of  1% milk, and a small apple.
  • Chicken sandwich – 2 slices of whole wheat bread, 3 ounces of baked chicken, 1 tablespoon of light mayo, lettuce, onion, tomato, 4 ounces of lite yogurt, 1 cup of strawberries.
  • Turkey cheese burger – 1 whole grain hamburger bun, 3- to 4-ounce turkey patty, lettuce, onion, tomato, a slice of low-fat cheese, and a small banana.
  • Spaghetti – 1 cup of whole wheat pasta, 3 ounces of ground turkey, 1/2 cup of spaghetti sauce, small side salad with some shredded cheese and light dressing, 3/4 cup of cantaloupe.

Okay – now you tell us. What are you favorite healthy meals?

Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center a Hub for Diabetes Experts Around the World

The Second Global Diabetes Summit will be held Nov. 14 – 16 at the Ohio Union presented by Ohio State’s Diabetes Research Center. The summit theme is, “New Horizons in Diabetes: Genetic to Personalized Health Care,” and will be led by a variety of diabetes physicians, researchers and advocates regarding the latest research on prevention, diabetes technology, cellular and tissue therapies, islet cell therapy, pharmacology, pregnancy and cardiovascular disease and other relevant topics.  Notable speakers include:

  • Ann Albright, PhD, RD – Director of Diabetes Translation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who will discuss the research behind The U.S. National Diabetes Prevention Program
  • Jean–Claude Mbanya, MD, PhD, FRCP –  President, International Diabetes Federation will focus on the global pandemic of obesity and diabetes in adults, include epidemiological solutions and challenges, and the global economic impact of diabetes
  • Vivian Fonseca, MD, FRCP – President, American Diabetes Association, who will discuss future oral anti-diabetic medications
  • Griffin Rodgers, MD, MBA, MACP –  Director, The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases will present on genomics and diabetes

To view a complete agenda and register, visit

In addition, on the final day of the summit, Saturday, November 17, a Community Event themed “Focus on Health and Wellness: Life Choices”, will be held at Veterans Memorial Auditorium located at 300 W. Broad St. This event will give community members the opportunity to ask one-on-one questions, view exercise and cooking demonstrations, experience hands on workshops and listen to panel discussions featuring diabetes experts.

Celebrity guests includeNBA Hall of Fame legend and vice president of Basketball for Atlanta Hawks, Dominique Wilkins; and Oscar Joyner, president and Chief Operating Officer of REACH Media, Inc. and son of Tom Joyner, who will speak on their personal battles with diabetes and successful management of this disease.

The community event, is FREE and open to the public, but pre-registration is required. Lunch will be served to all registered attendees.

To register for the community event, visit or call 614-273-1400.

If you would like to donate your time as a clinical or non-clinical volunteer for the Global Diabetes Summit, contact Dorian Harriston, senior marketing manager, at

Football fans: Left speechless after a game?

Save your voice with these tips from Dr. Arick Forrest, Director of Voice and Swallowing Disorders Clinic at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

  • Drink water before and during the game to keep vocal cords moist.
  • Plan five to 10 minutes of “quiet time” during a game to rest your voice. If you feel your voice getting strained or if you hear a ‘pop,’ stop yelling immediately.
  • “Warm up” vocal cords first before screaming. Vocal cords are muscles and need to warm up; just as runners don’t go from sitting to sprinting without jogging first.
  • Practice “vocal hygiene,” such as drinking a lot of water and talking quietly, to help prevent long-term and permanent damage if a problem does occur.
  • Avoid whispering if you have vocal damage. Whispering is even worse than talking and causes more stress to the vocal cords than soft, conversational speaking.
  • Avoid talking, as much as possible, as well as caffeine, alcohol and cigarette smoke or other harmful chemicals, if your voice box is irritated.
  • Work with a speech therapist to learn proper breath support, particularly if you are a cheerleader or a serious sports fan.

For more information:

Pups with Purpose


Since Bella has been a puppy, she has been training for a very specific purpose – to help heal the wounded and bring joy to the sick. She learned to be around large groups of people, be exposed to loud noises and sudden movements, and became an internationally certified therapy dog, all by the time she was one year old.

Now age 4, Bella is a social dog, very comfortable being around patients and their families. She takes patients for walks and helps them learn to regain balance. They talk to her and about her for cognitive therapy. Some patients who have pets at home relearn pet care, so they walk, feed and brush her. And patients in wheelchairs pet her as they get used to moving their arms and hands again, although sometimes this admittedly puts her right to sleep!

Bella is one of the two dogs that spend time in the Recreation Therapy Room at Dodd Hall – bringing smiles to patients and their families. Her owner, Morgan Mersey, is a Certified Therapeutic Recreational Specialist in Rehabilitation at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Morgan and Bella take a walk.

Does your pet help you live healthier? Do you go on walks together? Do they reduce your stress? Tell us your story.

Pharmacy Program Celebrated

The May 2012 issue of Pharmacy Today, the official publication of the American Pharmacists Association, highlighted the successful collaboration of pharmacists and other healthcare team members at CarePoint Gahanna and CarePoint Lewis Center using the Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) model. Working with physicians and medical assistants, pharmacists focus on helping patients within the primary care environment, assisting patients with chronic disease to optimize drug therapy, providing coaching and collaborating on patients’ care. To read more click: